On my post about confirmation (amongst other things), Matthew asked about my reasons for getting confirmed given my Baptist / FIEC background.
The short answer really is – there’s not actually a spiritual reason! I feel like over the past few months God has been pushing me towards ministry. Possibly ministry in the Anglican church, even. As such, I think that if in the future I did train to become an Anglican clergyman, I think me not being confirmed would present an issue for some people…
I do, of course, already count my baptism as a visible acknowledgement of my faith – which confirmation is also supposed to be – but simply as a matter of church order I thought confirmation would be a wise move on my part.
However, in terms of my theological position on infant baptism / confirmation… well although I was brought up and baptised (not as an infant) in an FIEC church, I do think there is some merit to the Anglican way of doing things. I heard a talk by Andy Saville at Fordham called “Why I am not… a Baptist” (it was part of a series. It’s not nearly as controversial as it sounds, and is available on the Fordham website – which is how I listened to it). Basically, the talk was about infant baptism – the arguments for and against it, whether it’s justifiable from the Bible and church tradition.
It does indeed seem that there is a good case to be made for infant baptism. It’s probably got a bad name because it has been abused – a lot of parents seem to want to have their children baptised but then don’t ever come back to church! But that doesn’t mean it’s a reason not to do it in proper circumstances.
And confirmation is really just a follow on from Baptism, allowing someone to confirm that they want to be part of the Christian faith as well as the church (and God!) confirming their acceptance into the church and wider Christian family. I love the actual confirmation part of the service, where the bishop presiding over the ceremony says “God has called you by name and made you his own”.
Finally, I should make clear that this is not at all a criticism of nonconformist churches! I still look back at my baptism and think that was an important day for me, that is when I publicly declared my Christian faith. I just wanted to say that I think confirmation is no bad thing for those who have grown up in the Anglican tradition, provided that people don’t see the act as more important than the state of the heart.